Coos Bay Club helps make garden boxes for kids’ nutrition

From a Coos Bay World article by Amanda Linares

There’s something special about growing your own food. It’s a feeling Dr. Steven Shimotakahara wanted to share with others some time ago.

Dr. Shimotakahara, the chairman of the board of the North Bend Medical Center, board certified ENT physician and husband to Coos Bay Rotarian Eva Shimotakahara, donated over 20 garden boxes to local foster families throughout Coos County as a way to encourage their children to eat more vegetables.

A community-based project, which was started by Dr. Shimotakahara about two years ago, the “Growing Together” program not only taught young children about gardening, but also encouraged them to eat healthy. What began with only six garden boxes in 2018 has grown into 60 garden boxes this year, which were being held at a number of local area schools.

However, the program came to halt after schools statewide were ordered to close their doors by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown last month to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Not wanting the garden boxes to go to waste, Dr. Shimotakahara donated the boxes to the NBMC employee group and to Every Child Coos County, which is a community-led nonprofit organization that partners with the Department of Human Services and the Coos County Foster Parent Association to provide support services to local foster families.

The program is made possible from funding and donations from a number of organizations including the Bay Area Hospital Community Foundation, OHSU, the Coos Bay/North Bend Rotary Club and many more.

While the school shutdowns have forced the program to come to an end as far as the studies being conducted, the overall program is not over, said Dr. Shimotakahara. A Facebook page has been started for families who received a garden box to stay in touch and share pictures and updates of their vegetables.

“Once you grow something and watch it grow you’re much more inclined to eat it,” said Dr. Shimotakahara. “I just think this is the way to go not only for the county, but for the whole country.”